Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Shirt dispute controversy leads to cancellation of CAF Cup tie between Moroccan and Algerian Teams

RS Berkane's Yassine Lebhiri passes a ball as a laser beam is directed at him from the fans, during the CAF Super Cup 2022 soccer match in Rabat, Morocco, on Saturday, Sept. 1   -  
Copyright © africanews
Mosa'ab Elshamy/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.


A dispute over football jerseys has once again led to the cancellation of a crucial football match in North Africa, further highlighting the deep-seated tensions between Morocco and Algeria.

The controversy erupted when Algerian customs officers seized the jerseys of RS Berkane, a Moroccan football club, citing the inclusion of a map depicting the disputed Western Sahara region. This seizure resulted in the cancellation of the first leg of their tie against USM Alger in the African Confederation Cup.

Despite the contentious backdrop, gestures of fraternity and friendship were exchanged as the Algerian delegation, including USM Alger, arrived in Morocco for the scheduled match. Moroccan officials extended a warm welcome, emphasizing the bonds of love and friendship between the two nations and their sporting communities.

"Today, we received the Algerian delegation of USM Algiers, who came to play the return leg for the semi-finals of the CAF confederation cup. We welcomed them with a bouquet of roses as a token of the love and friendship that unites the two brotherly peoples and the sports components. We officially announced to them that we place at their disposal all logistical capabilities, equipment and sports infrastructure," said Abdeslam Belkchour, president of the Moroccan Professional Football League.

"The reception was good. We thank them for the reception. Thank you very much, brothers. This is a fraternal reception," expressed Kamel Hassina, president of the USMA, reflecting a tone of camaraderie despite the underlying tensions.

RS Berkane was subsequently awarded a 3-0 victory due to the cancellation, securing their place in the final of the prestigious tournament.

The inclusion of the map of Morocco, particularly regarding the Western Sahara, reignited long-standing tensions between the two nations. The Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, is predominantly under Moroccan control, but Algeria supports the Polisario Front's quest for independence in the region, leading to decades of conflict and diplomatic strain.

However, moments before the match was set to commence, USM Alger abruptly left the stadium, leaving RS Berkane and the awaiting crowd bewildered. The cancellation of the match dashed the hopes of football enthusiasts and left both teams and their supporters disappointed.

The recurring theme of football jersey disputes exacerbating political tensions underscores the fragile nature of relations between Morocco and Algeria. Despite efforts to foster goodwill and sportsmanship, underlying political sensitivities continue to cast a shadow over sporting events in the region.